The late Harlene Jones Lee ’51, an educator and professional skater, has left $3.4 million to Hiram College as a gift from her estate.
A native of Ravenna, Ohio, Lee graduated from Hiram College in 1951 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in elementary education. She put her Hiram degree to work in short order, serving as a primary grade teacher in Maple Heights, a public school district located southeast of Cleveland, Ohio. Beyond her teaching career, Lee had a passion for ice skating that took her around the world. Over the years, she earned some of the highest awards a skater can achieve in the dancing and free dancing categories from the United States and Canada, including the Triple Gold Dance Test Medal. She and her partner, F. Ritter Shumway, skated in the national “Exhibition of Champions” for 12 years, attended as special guests on the World Team Tour, and performed special shows for Bob Hope, President Gerald Ford, and the king and queen of Sweden. The pair also skated to promote the U.S. Figure Skating Memorial Fund, which provides qualified skaters with monetary assistance in pursuing goals both on and off the ice. Despite her accomplished career as an athlete, Lee exuded a pragmatism and modesty throughout her life. On July 29, 2019, Lee passed away in Hendersonville, North Carolina.
Jennifer Schuller, vice president of development and alumni relations, remembers full well Lee’s passion for student health and wellness, in addition to their academic success. “Harlene spoke with compassion and first-hand knowledge about the importance of health and balance in one’s life. It makes perfect sense to see that she directed a portion of this wonderful gift to support student health and athletics, as well as to three new endowed scholarship funds: one for students preparing for law school, a second for students bound for medical school, and a third fund for high-achieving students,” says Schuller.
Lee’s gift could not be more timely, as Hiram recently announced a new tuition model in response to national concern over college affordability. “Harlene’s generosity provides scholarships for our students, making a private education more affordable and accessible to students from all backgrounds,” says Lori Varlotta, Ph.D., president of Hiram College. “It allows the College to further enhance the high-quality programs that consistently earn Hiram extraordinarily high rankings such as the ones from Washington Monthly and U.S. News and World Report. We are very lucky to have alumni like Harlene as one of us, and I speak for many when I say our gratitude for her support is deep and long lasting.”
An article in a previous edition of The Hiram Magazine featured Lee, where she noted her anticipation to do other things for Hiram College in the future beyond her charitable gift annuity. Her commitment to that is recognizable with this generous gift to the College.